Monday, December 17, 2012

I've been thinking about this,

Like many people, issues of mental heath and tragic violence have been on my mind. People have been talking about it on Facebook, and I have started to hope that we can finally have a serious and productive conversation about tragedy, and how we can best prevent one.

Recently, we've heard from a mother who sees echos of Adam Lanza in her own son as he grows. Wonkette wrote a compelling piece on the failure of the public discourse to engage with what she said in a meaningful or constructive manner. And then a doctor charged to heal those who are mentally ill spoke out, with a very clear and poginiant cry for help.

I am not Adam Lanza's father or his brother, or his teacher, or the tragic young man himself. But I can imagine him, and I can try to imagine what it might be like to be another young man facing mental illness.

I can only imagine how scary and frustrating it must be to alone in 

a mind that is not truly your own.

Especially in a society that is so uncomfortable with looking at you we only talk about extrem
es or after tragedy, when we can safely describe the person as other than ourselves, a monster.

I can only imagine what it would be like to know that I might harm someone around me, and know that there would be no one to help, or to stop me, until it was already too late.

I think that would be more terrifying and lonely than anything I have known in my life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

There's no wrong time to do the right thing.

Marriage Equality is certainly in the news today with both some good and bad news, and in my opinion the two events aren't unrelated.

So on the one hand, we have North Carolina's latest move in the ongoing worst state in the Union competition: Amendment 1. It's pretty shameful and despicable that the people of North Carolina would decide to single out a group of people for discrimination and write that bigotry into their very constitution.

But the fact that they feel it necessary to go to such lengths is itself a sign of their waning influence. The writing is on the wall and gallup polls have begun to consistently show that a plurality support equal rights for LGBT Americans, and that plurality is growing. The bigots are running scared, and are doing everything they can to get their bigoted laws on the books now, because in a few years they won't have the political capital to do even that.

In their desperation, I think supporters of Amendment 1 in North Carolina may have done more to harm their cause than help it. Amendment 1 is pretty flagrantly a direct act of discrimination, and when it is challenged (and it will be) the battle to defend it will be a difficult one. Being an amendment to the state's constitution, it's pretty well entrenched, but that might just make it the key to getting a universal federal ruling in favor of Marriage Equality.

Armchair speculation aside, I do think it's already triggered positive action elsewhere. Specifically, the Oval Office.

President Obama's public statement in support of Marriage Equality couldn't be better timed in my opinion, and serves as a direct counterpoint to the demoralizing influence of North Carolina's Amendment 1 passing. My more cynical friends worry that it's a political maneuver in an election year -which, of course, it is- but I don't think that makes it insincere or diminishes how good it is he said it.

First off, it's simply the right thing to do, and I don't think there is a wrong time to do the right thing. Should he have made this declaration sooner? Yeah, but better today than tomorrow.

I've also seen friends worry that taking a stand on Marriage Equality will hurt his chances of re-election. I think that remains to be seen, but honestly I think it will help more than it hurts. President Obama's always been a moderate, but when he was elected many progressives thought they had put a much more liberal man in the White House, and as a result were somewhat disillusioned when he failed to live up to their expectations.

Standing up for Marriage Equality gives a lot of progressives a reason to be excited about the prospect of four more years of an Obama administration, and that's very important. Simply being scared of what a Romney administration might bring isn't as strong a motivator, in my opinion. And having another positive reason to support Obama should help with fundraising.

Will it also motivate homophobes to vote against President Obama? Sure, some. But honestly, they were never going to vote for him in the first place, and I think the net result still tips in the President's favor.

So on the whole, I'm feeling pretty good about the outlook for LGBT rights and the upcoming presidential election. And it's about damn time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Form is temporary...

Even as a fairly recent Manchester City supporter, I'm no stranger to the club's propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Which is part of why I am so strongly disinclined to prematurely crown ourselves the Premier League Champions, but that's not the only reason.

It also would be the sort of behavior I've come to expect from a Manchester United supporter and I'd like to be as dissimilar to a ManU fan as possible.

My friends and I are part of a small, but growing contingent of  City supporters frequenting a nearby English Pub here in Seattle. There are usually only 3-5 of us at most games, since many of us have to work on the weekends. This morning saw the usual suspects all seated happily in our regular booth, right beneath the big TV. Directly behind us, however, was a pair of new faces, both proudly sporting brand new United shirts.

Now there's nothing surprising about seeing a United supporter show up to catch a City match, especially when their fate depends on us dropping points. That being said, I can't help but smile when I hear the inevitable jeers. And razzing one's rival is part of the fun, so I generally don't mind the exchange too much.

There is one line, though, that always tilts my head a bit:

You can't buy class!

Do they suppose Sir Alex purchased his squad at a rummage sale using money from his summer job at the Car Wash?

But more than that is the underlying assumption that class is a quality that they are qualified to speak to, being the classiest act around.

Funny, I wouldn't consider shouting out your sour grapes during a match the mark of a classy fan.

It seems to me like many Manchester United supporters feel entitled to victory, as though it were theirs by right, on the merit of their club's history alone. I've seen reds squall and fuss like petulant children denied a sweet when they failed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League, and after their 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford I heard every manner of excuse and equivocation, everything short of acknowledging United was outplayed in a fair fight.

Don't get me wrong, I've heard things from City fans that I do not approve of, Munich chants in particular are completely unacceptable. And I've certainly seen admirable conduct from United supporters, often the old guard; the type that's there every weekend without having checked the results of the match beforehand.

I particularly remember a white-bearded gentleman, wearing red from top to bottom walking over and shaking my hand when we beat them in the FA Cup semi-final last year.

That was super classy.

That was the act of a man who saw past the outcome he would have liked, saw what a huge win it was for the blue half of Manchester, and understood that congratulating a rival's hard-won success takes nothing away from your side.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that saying you've got class is, at the very best, redundant.

Form is temporary...

Class is self-evident.